Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship (Public Chapter 483) (Application in Adobe PDF format)

The Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship is a program designed to  assist students with intellectual disabilities who have completed high school and enroll in a two-year individualized program at an eligible postsecondary institution. 

Name of Institution Program Name
Lipscomb University IDEAL Program (January 2014)
University of Memphis TIgerLIFE
University of Tennessee UT FUTURE
Vanderbilt University Next Steps

For a list of eligible postsecondary institutions, please click here.

Students will receive $2,000 per semester. Students and parents must complete the STEP UP Scholarship application and submit the completed application to the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC).  In addition, recipients must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The FAFSA can be completed by clicking here


An eligible postsecondary program is defined as a postsecondary program recognized by the Postsecondary Educational Alliance and offered by an eligible postsecondary institution that assists students with intellectual disabilities, as defined in § 33-1-101, who have completed high school, but who need a strong system of education supports and services to access and obtain postsecondary education. 


To be an eligible postsecondary program, a program shall consist of a two-year individualized program of study designed to provide meaningful postsecondary activities, including academic, career development and exploration and independent living skills, on the postsecondary campus. 

To be eligible, the applicant must:

  • Not be ineligible for the scholarship under § 49-4-904;
  • Have been a Tennessee resident, as defined by regulations promulgated by the board of regents under § 49-8-104, for one (1) year immediately preceding the date of application for a scholarship or the renewal of the scholarship;
  • Complete high school in a Tennessee high school in accordance with the requirements of the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and receive a high school diploma or certificate, a special education diploma, a transition certificate, or an IEP certificate;
  • Be admitted to and enroll in an eligible postsecondary institution in an eligible postsecondary program no later than sixteen (16) months after completing high school; and
  • Apply for a Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship

To continue to be eligible for a Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship, a student shall:

  • Maintain continual enrollment in the eligible postsecondary program as defined by the eligible postsecondary institution; and
  • Make satisfactory academic progress in the student’s program of study as determined by the eligible postsecondary institution

Students, who lose the scholarship at any time for any reason, shall not be eligible to regain the scholarship. 


Students may receive the award until the first of the following events:

  • The student receives a credential signifying completion of the eligible postsecondary program; or
  • Two (2) years have passed from the date of the student’s initial enrollment in the eligible postsecondary program. 

Students who receive an approved medical or personal leave of absence from an eligible postsecondary institution may continue to receive the scholarship upon resuming the student’s education in the eligible postsecondary program.  The student must continue to meet all eligibility requirements.  A student taking an approved leave of absence shall be eligible for the scholarship until receiving a credential signifying completion of the program or the sum of the number of years the student attends prior to the leave of absence and the number of years after the leave of absence equals two (2) years. 


The sum of all financial aid, including a Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship, for which a student qualifies, cannot exceed the institutionally defined total cost of education at the eligible postsecondary institution the scholarship recipient is attending.  If the total cost of education is exceeded then the Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship may be reduced.  

NOTE:  The enacting language for the STEP UP Scholarship allows eligibility for students initially entering eligible postsecondary programs for the 2013-14 academic year and academic years thereafter.  Students already enrolled in the eligible postsecondary programs are not eligible to receive the award.